Monday, August 23, 2010


Disclaimer to the following post:

If there are two virtues that I pursue actively on a constant and daily basis, they are self-mastery and self-honesty. This drive comes somewhat second-nature to me, I think, since I have always been my own best drill sargent and my own toughest critic. I've recently discovered, however, that self-honesty is not only an awareness of your flaws and how and where you need to improve yourself, but also recognizing one's strengths and attributes. This not being to inflate one's ego or to put one's self above the others, but to hold your head high and know that God has endowed you with these gifts with which to bless the human family. We may feel conflicted when we hear lessons in church and in the scriptures about our individual worth as children of God, but then moments later hear that we are no more than the "dust of the earth." Which are we? Perhaps both.

My brother Percy, who is one of the dearest people I know, has a gift for championing people and an ability to see and love people the way God loves us. This, I believe, is a spiritual gift. My dad has it as well. I believe this gift enables people to see others as a whole, almost from a bird's eye point of view, as opposed to defining them by isolated actions or individual qualities or flaws. Yesterday he commented on my post and dared me to post his comment. I'm reaching far, far out of my comfort zone by posting this and do it more for myself than for those that may read it. As I read this, I didn't feel "inflated," but loved. Thank you Percy for your words.

You don't have to post this one if you don't want to. I dare you to, but you don't have to. You my beautiful sister, are stunning & gorgeous. Every person that lays eyes on you comments on your perfection. Like my roommates who all won't forget you & cousins at wedding receptions. I challenge you to HEAR the blessings your loved ones gift you with. To RECEIVE their love with open heart. Inside. This is a hard thing to do for one who has grown up in a culture where self-depreciation is more socially accepted than acknowledging one's brilliance. AND being as kind to YOURSELF, as you are to everyone else, is perhaps one of the most significant acts of benevolence. You are beautiful & Dennis is a fortunate man to walk by your side. I have heard him say this. Attractiveness is partly inherited. And part of it is really hard work!, as you know. Having a nice body is the result of proper eating, an entire lifestyle of preparing and planning, hours of exercise (hopefully done in the spirit of fun too), nourishing the soul in the body, educating oneself on options, creativity in meeting goals, years of perseverance, dressing optimally, taking daily time to arrange oneself in a pleasing way. People might say, "oh I wish I had your good looks" but often aren't willing to put in their effort to radiate. Your life accomplishments & traits reflect part of who you are. You grew up in multiple countries & cultures learning to navigate & adapt. You are the offspring of a veterinary doctor & a registered nurse, both bilingual & accomplished in their own right. You've continued some of their interests in writing, world cultures, deep appreciation for the worth of every human being, faithfulness to a religion that asks alot, physical activity, diplomacy, event planning, leadership with people & groups, getting large numbers of individuals to follow your lead on various endeavors, a heart to help suffering with action, delight in culinary activity, agricultural labor, not being proud about working with your own hands, humility, eyes quick to flow with tears (I love this one & think it sound in many ways), an appetite for reading, a spotless home, a continuing desire to connect with family and be together. Additionally you've cultivated more: proven financial soundness in adhering to a strict budget of your own making, a determination to live within your means, asset wisdom in savings, retirement & debt reduction, have darling disciplined children who say thank you, refer to your siblings with the endearing title "uncle" or "aunt", & show high facility from home vocabulary mentoring, your physical prowess demonstrated in marathons and triathlons, a love of youth & scouting & the outdoors, a unique classiness in your home & personal decor, an eye for colors & creating beautiful spaces, an ability to foster & maintain close friendships with local friends, your college degree, professional competence, wage-earning ability, an openness in difficult situations, an honest introspection, a fierce competitiveness. You also cast a tall shadow. The world has a powerful person in you. When I look in the mirror I sometimes see it in myself, sometimes I don't... at times I must remind myself to see what is in front of me. Your spouse did not marry a trophy wife, gorgeous as she is, he married an impressive equal. One capable & strong. In some areas you are more capable, & you have gone first. In others areas he. What aim does keeping score & comparing serve? Fortunately life in general is not a race, & getting there first, though sometimes fun, is not the most important. It takes a subtle yet profound sense of self to be married to another spectacular person. For both. To sit appreciatively while your loved one is praised, thankful. And then to sit still and take it in when it comes your way.

Mi Viejo

Just about every day I hear from someone how lucky I am to be married to Dennis and what an amazing guy he is and frankly, I'm getting a little tired of it. It's not so fun always living in someone else's shadow. I've been reading a biography about George and Martha Washington. I think Dennis shares many of George Washington's attributes, especially the sweet way he treated his wife. Something Patsy (Martha) said hit home to me. She said, "Being around you casts a tall shadow. But it's one I'll happily stand in." She referred to his shadow both metaphorically and literally since he was over 6 feet 3 inches tall and always evoked a spectacle of devotion and support from his followers everywhere he went. She also referred to him as, "My dear old man," or as they say in Latin America, "Mi viejo."

Sometimes I'll say to him, "Geez, why doesn't anyone ever tell you how lucky you are to be me married to me?" And then being the smart man that he is, doesn't answer.

Here are a few of the things my sweetheart does that make him so amazing.

He makes the bed every day he doesn't go to work, even when we're staying at a hotel.

Everytime I come home from jogging or being at the gym, he always sets out a tall glass of icewater for me on the counter, just to be sweet.

He does most of the canning and gardening for our family.

When we were first married I couldn't figure out how to sew couch covers for our thrift store couch and was about to let out a stream of expletives when he calmly took them from me, disappeared into the sewing room for a few hours and came out with beautifully made couch covers- pleats, darts and all. That only worsened the urge for expletives.

He makes awesome homemade bread and I can't even compete with his pie crusts and pizza dough, so I don't.

When we first moved into our house we (or I should say he) painted our living room yellow. After two days I told him for some reason the color made me nauseous (yes, a little dramatic, but I was just pregnant with Luke). So calmly and without complaint, he took all the pictures down again, retaped and repainted our living room to the shade of yellow that no longer made me nauseous. I'm embarassed to admit that one because it makes me sound like such a diva.

When I told him I needed a change from the windy, brownish, windy, grayish, windy winter in Idaho last year, he said, "How about we go see your parents in Indonesia?" He has a knack for knowing what will lift my spirits when I'm feeling down.

To date there has not been a single- not one problem he has not been able to figure out, be it from packing into three suitcases the hundreds of souvenirs we bought in Mexico- to building our amazing playset without blueprints, just the picture in his head. This man is Macgyver and Mary Poppins rolled into one- but better.

He is incredibly gifted athletically and excels at any sport he tries. The man reminds me of spiderman and the hulk. He is easily the most physically powerful and agile man I know.

He listens to me ramble, and then listens some more... and then some more.

When I ask him to vacuum, he moves the couches and gets behind them.

He is constantly volunteering to take the kids for the evening while I go to the gym, go out with a friend, or take some time off.

I truly believe this man is capable of anything he wants to do. Really. Anything.

So I'm left asking myself , "What do I contribute to this relationship?" Yep, that's a hard one to answer being married to this guy. I would be happy if my boys grow up to be even half the man their father is.

Monday, August 16, 2010

End of Summer Fling

We just spent the past 9 days in Utah having our last summer fling. My parents are home for two months in between in assignments. Back from Indonesia and on their way to Peru. I love how adventuresome they are and hope to be that way at their age. Just before leaving Indonesia, my mom spent a month aboard a U.S. Navy ship called the "Mercy Ship" doing humanitarian work in the form of free medical procedures for the people of southeast Asia. I'm so proud of her. She is always trying to do things for others, both on large and small scales.

I headed down with just the kids while Dennis stayed behind to work. It was a little more stressful than I had planned being with my crazy kids in my little sister's immaculate and quiet home. Cristina, sorry for the stress! I was glad though, to be able to see my parents see some cousins I hadn't seen in a long time. I love reconnecting with family, both immediate and extended. As a kid, travelling to Idaho and Utah to visit my cousins was always the highlight of my year.

Here's a picture of a hair bow making day we had with my mom, sisters, and sister-in-laws. It was a lot of fun. We put every bow and hair clip we had made in our hair for the picture.

Afterwards we headed to Salt Lake to meet up with Dennis for a Utah vacation we had been planning for quite a few months. Our good friends, the Landon's joined us. Julie is one of my dearest friends. We went to nursing school together, worked together at the nursing home and on the postpartum unit in Logan, and each have 3 kids close together in age.

We were all completely exhausted and slightly delirious by the end of our vacation on Sunday. We had visited the Gateway Discovery Center, the Lion House, the Clark Planetarium, the Hogle Zoo, This is The Place Heritage Park, Sunbird, the Living Planet Aquarium, the Mayan restaurant, Thanksgiving Pointe, Temple Square, and watched a 3-D movie. Now imagine hauling 6 kids, all under the age of 6, to do all of it over 3 days. Yes...chaos. But lots of fun. We're going to need a few days to recover from this one.

Luke and Rees on Mars at the planetarium.

Trent with 4 of the 6 kids. We pretty much looked like a travelling zoo.

On top of Snowbird after taking the tram. I had the willies the whole time. Holy moly.

Julie and me

Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point

The Mayan

Petting the stingray at the aquarium

"Under the Sea" in 3-D

Temple Square

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I'm surprised that I got a picture of Luke smiling at all tonight. For as many times as I've regretted doing so, I keep forgetting, DON'T BE IMPULSIVE WHEN CUTTING HAIR. I was cutting my Luke's hair tonight and I asked him, "Do you want short hair so I won't have to comb it anymore on Sundays?" His eyes widened and he said, "Yeah!" So without giving it a second thought, I took the clippers and buzzed right over the top of his hair. As soon as I did it, his eyes about popped out of his head and he let out a blood curdling scream. For as much as he fights me every time I try to comb it, I never thought my 3 year old was so attached to his hair. Camden, who had also just gotten his hair cut kept yelling at me, "Mom, stop!! You're hurting him!" But I was too far into it to stop so I had to keep going. The way Luke was screaming with every pass of the clippers you'd think I was tearing his limbs off one at a time. I was sure the neighbors were going to call the cops.

By the time I was finished he was hysterical. I bathed him and by now he was sobbing so hard he couldn't catch his breath or talk. I told him that maybe we should go downstairs to get some icecream and that it might help his hair grow back. I finally got him to calm down and handed him off to Dennis while I went to the gym. When I got back Dennis said that with every bite of his icecream he would rub his head and say, "Is it growing back yet?"

Dennis said he was reluctant to say his prayers and refused to fold his arms or pray until his hair grew back. After Dennis finally talked him into cooperating, Luke asked Heavenly Father to please help his hair grow back.

Oh my... I think after tonight all of us are a little traumatized. I was sure with his huge eyes it would look so cute but maybe not so much.

To try to even the score a bit for Luke's sake, here's a picture of me (that's me at the bottom of the picture-so awesome) with my first ever impulse decision at the hair salon when I was eight years old. That resulted in YEARS of merciless teasing from my brothers, even long after it grew out. As soon as I came home with my new perm, my brother said, "Hey, you look like a bush!" So the name "Bush" stuck until I was.... hmmm... about 25.

Monday, August 2, 2010


This summer has been one of the busiest summers we've ever had. It seems like every weekend we have a major outing. Looking at my July calendar, I had something going on every single day of the month. It was completely jammed packed. August is looking a little better but not much. I love that though. I love summers where I've been so busy doing fun things that I look forward to the slower pace of fall. That's what summer's all about. That has definitely been the case this year.

This weekend we went with the youth in our ward to Utah for their high adventure. I'm not quite sure how going to Lagoon and camping in someone's yard really makes for a "high adventure" but, oh well. We got to tag along and had fun so I won't complain. On Thursday we went to Lagoon with the boys for the first time. We left Lauren behind with my mother-in-law so we were able to go 100 mph all day until 10pm when the park closed. The boys had an absolute BLAST. We decided we want to try to make a yearly trip to Lagoon part of our family traditions. For kids their age, I liked it much better than Disneyland because of all the shade and the short lines. This weekend was definitely one of the best we've had this year.

On Friday, while the older kids toured Wellfare Square, I took the boys to hang out with my brother Percy in SLC. Percy is one of their favorite people and they always have a great time when he's around. He took us to a number of fun activities in SLC. I must say that my favorite part of the day was an impromptu pool party with some guys that live in his apartment complex. I was grateful with how patient and playful they were with my boys, both of whom were deliriously tired and cranky from the day before at Lagoon. As they shared their stories and feelings about their situations, I left feeling a great deal of love for those that fall outside the Utah Mormon mainstream as they do. This can be a difficult and lonely place to be, yet they held no animosity towards anyone and conveyed so much love and friendliness that it was impossible not to feel as though they are my brothers. I feel as though my experience with them gave me a new set of glasses with which to see people that we often want to label and pre-judge. Thanks for sharing your time with us Percy! The boys have discovered a newfound love for Credence Clearwater Revival during our drive down to Utah. This is them listening to it on Dennis's ipod in the guest bedroom that we stayed in at my uncle and aunt's home. They couldn't get enough of it.
Enjoying some time at the Layton pool.

Walking down a city creek in Salt Lake with uncle Percy.

Visiting the state capital building. When we walked in, Camden said, "Wow, this looks like a giant pearl!" I was surprised at how cool they thought the building was.
They thought Dippin' Dots were the coolest thing they had ever seen. The nice boy at the stand gave them twice the amount we paid for.

Riding the zoo train at Lagoon. Geez, looking at these pictures I just realized where Luke usually has his left hand. Good grief.